F1 2010 is the first Codemasters’ attempt at making a Formula 1 game on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 after Sony held the license for several years during the last two gaming generations. The guys behind DiRT and GRID tried to keep the game as faithful to the sport as possible and the result is game every racing-game fanatic should try because it’s excellent.
When you start the career for the first time, the game asks you to choose how many championships you want to play between three, five and seven. Then you will be able to select the team in which you’re going to race. At first the only options are HRT, Lotus and Virgin which were the weakest teams last year in the championship. So naturally and unlike in most racing games, you will definitely not start by winning races and getting good results. In fact, the team you’re driving for will give you objectives you need to meet and for those weak teams the objectives are usually like “qualify 15th” and “finish the race in 18th or better”.
The game’s menu is very much like DiRT 2’s. You will control the camera around a motor home and several objects in it will represent an action. Example, there’s going to be a girl sitting inside who is your agent, if you choose her, she will give you info on the standings in the current championship and on the drivers who are participating including their best lap times for each track, a little biography and best results. In a table you’ll get to select the helmet you want to use and in a TV you will be able to start an event.
In real life, the F1 races are long. Taking from 49 to 71 laps, but the game will give you the option to race shorter versions of it. You can choose from 20%, 30%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the track’s number of laps. I usually drive in 30% so for example, in Cataluña the number of laps in real life are 66, so for me, I only had to race 20 laps. Also, you can choose to have your event on long or short race weekends.
In long, you will have three separate practice sessions of an hour and a half each, and then you’ll race the qualifying event which determines your place in the starting grid depending on your lap times compared to the other 23 drivers and finally, the race itself. The practice sessions are really important because they give you the opportunity to try different car setups on the track so you plan which one you’re going to choose for both qualifying and the race. You can, of course skip to any of the sessions once you feel you are prepared. In short race weekends you will only have one practice and qualifying sessions followed by the race, so you can choose whatever you feel more comfortable with.
Graphically, the game looks very good. Every track is extremely detailed with colors, light, brightness in every object and so on. The best-looking things are the cars of course which look much better than anything Codemasters did in DiRT 2 and GRID. One thing that caught my eye was the public watching the race and cheering. There are a lot of NPCs in the seats in every track which give a great feel specially while doing the actual races. The weather effects are terrific specially when raining, you can see the rain and wet track as if it were real, and I even noticed how water started to accumulate in several parts in different tracks forcing you to drive really carefully when raining. While the graphics are very good, I liked Gran Turismo 5 and Forza 3 better in that way but F1 does look great on the PS3.
Gameplay-wise the game is incredible; it has a great sense of speed which is really important given the fact that F1 cars usually top 250 km/h. It does an excellent job with the controls, which respond very well to the commands you give in the controller. Since it’s a F1 game you can’t turn on corners by drifting which is a mistake several other games made before, this doesn’t happen here. The gameplay stays really faithful to the real-life Formula 1. You have several camera options while driving, from a third person perspective watching the car to a first person one simulating the view of the driver (which looks excellent but things much harder).
The game is quite hard and unforgiving, even if you turn the assists on and put the opponents on medium difficulty; you’ll have a thought time getting decent results. For me that was great because I hate it when racing games have weak opponents and allow people to win by crashing into one another and driving aggressively. Since F1 rules don’t allow crashing, the game will penalize any player that does it with added seconds to their best lap times, giving lower starting grid places or just disqualifying the player from the race. There are also the pit-stops which are a great detail and usually help a lot when the weather suddenly changes or when you crash. The way the guys change tires and repair your car looks very realistic and cool.
One of the negative aspects is the lack of the option to have music while driving, there are several songs in the menus but none of them are very good which makes the music the only real bad thing about the game. But then again, music could have been a distracting factor when racing so personally, it didn’t bother me. On the other hand, the effects are top quality. The sounds of the cars are extremely realistic and respond perfectly to what they are doing, there are several other sound effects like crashes, the fanatics cheering and so on. You also have an assistant usually talking to you and giving important advices and information like the temperature of your wheels, comparing your lap times to your team mate’s and giving advice on how to turn, when to avoid a crash and when to pit stop.
Outside the career there are several common game modes like Grand Prix, where you just choose a driver and track and race on it. Time Trial, where you drive alone trying to beat lap records from either yourself or the online leader boards, and online multiplayer, where you can compete with human players all over the world in the tracks and keeping lap-times and results saved in the leader boards.
F1 2010 is a great addition to a gaming generation that was lacking a game like this. The fact that it stays faithful to the real Formula 1 makes the game hard and probably boring for players who just want to race because of the practice and qualifying sessions which sometimes feel a bit too long. The gameplay is easy to get into but hard to master and the several modes it offers and challenges it gives guarantee dozens of hours of gameplay. I personally like this game much more than Gran Turismo 5 because even if it has better graphics and a lot more tracks and cars, F1 2010 wins in the most important aspect in a video game: at being fun.
Graphics and Visuals…………8
Music and Sound Effects……..8